See How Modern French Fabrics Woven on a 180-Year-Old Wooden Loom

Laura Marin

From House Beautiful

One meter a day. That's how long it take the artisans at Pierre Frey to carefully weave their famous silk velvet. The process is completed by hand on a circa 1840s wooden loom in an atelier in northern France. "So, if you want a sofa that needs 20 meters, it's going to take 20 days of just weaving that product, just for one specific client for one specific order. So, it's extremely long. It's the slowest fabric we have to produce," explains Pierre Frey, grandson of the company's founder and their director of communications.

It's little wonder that the family-run "maison," founded in 1935 in Paris, has become synonymous with luxury in the world of textiles.

But it's not all so slow going. The company's Collobriere, one of their most popular fabrics, was created by the founder in 1956—but it's now offered in 90 different color ways and made on modern looms that can produce up to 50 meters a day. "We try to be very eclectic in terms of the style of our product and techniques," explains his grandson. The company's facility is one of the last of its kind in France. From woven and heavy jacquards to velvets embroideries and taffetas—woven from wool, linen, silk, and cotton—their extensive range of products are all crafted there by 30 dedicated employees.

"We have some workers that have been working for us for decades—some who just retired recently that had been with us for 47 years! They started when they were 16," says Frey. It was in 1976 that his dad—also Pierre Frey, naturally—took over the company from his father, and brought his three sons into the fold. "It's really interesting to work with your family," says Frey, "but working with clients is what's so exciting." Their world-famous reputation for quality is well deserved: After the fabric is woven, every centimeter (of the 200,000 meters of fabric they turn out each year) is inspected before being sent to the client. How do they do it, according to Frey? "Knot by knot."

Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

You Might Also Like